They say everything’s bigger in Texas.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas are the hot movie ticket in their home state of Texas. With the Austin-based brand booming coast to coast—known for elaborate opening night stunts, interactive experiences, and from-scratch menus—this summer it brought its elevated cinema experience to Woodbury. Alamo offers a dinner-and-a-movie experience with on-screen features and interactive experiences curated by die-hard movie lovers. The fresh build-out on I-94 and Radio Drive in the Woodbury Lakes Center opened in July but had a grand opening in August, and it’s a destination: part-restaurant, part-theater, with a few quirks and some all-out stunts up its sleeve.
Remember that scene in Annie, where Daddy Warbucks rented out the entire theater so their threesome could savor every moment of their show? That’s kind of what Alamo’s like. The theater technology is cutting-edge, with comfy reclining chairs, premium large-format screens and Sony laser projectors, trademarked the “Big Show.” A massive in-lobby bar serves 30-plus local craft tap beers and cocktails. Screen-printed Mondo movie posters and lobby exhibits change with the titles being shown, so visitors have a different experience each time—starting the moment they walk through the front door. There’s not a line of ticket windows, but a concierge. Full-service staff brings a full menu of food and drinks right to your assigned seat. And a strict no-talking, no-texting rule means that Austin-based director of creative Jordan Michael has asked over 100 disruptive guests to leave during his career.
“We’ve lost guests over it, but we’ve also gained incredible loyalty,” he says. The point, he explains, is to give guests an experience that’s 100 percent focused on the film. He and the rest of the Alamo team have built out some 30 locations with incredible attention to detail and innovative programming. While there are some consistencies—like from-scratch cooking and a few rules designed to eliminate distractions—there’s also thought given to each neighborhood and its tastes. “Drafthouse is our middle name, and sometimes that scares off families. But we pride ourselves on being nimble, and our goal is to be a neighborhood theater. We play everything, see what hits, and build off that,” Michael adds.
October usually brings a lineup of genre horror flicks, but local creative manager Tim Holly is also given some leeway to build programming that will fit Minnesota. “Woodbury is growing so rapidly—it’s easy to get to from the Twin Cities—and it really has a lot of untapped potential for alternative programming,” says Holly, who’s excited to bring the national brand home. “There’s a lack of that in the area right now.”
Marrying his love of film with his love of the Twin Cities, Holly’s also working with Bootstrap Coffee, Sebastian Joe’s, a local distillery, and Lift Bridge Brewery Root Beer to bring a decidedly Minnesotan flavor to the menu. There will be some overlap with the national offerings—including “milkshakes for days,” as Michael explains it—but each theater offers a culinary sense of place. Cheese curds and other Midwestern delicacies will be served alongside fresh-thrown pizzas, wings and nachos on the snack menu.
“We’re very excited to be in a new market, and Woodbury is just the first stop,” Michael says.
“We’ve had success in suburbs around hip towns, and we’re excited to see what it does here. The Twin Cities are ready for Alamo, and Alamo is ready for the Twin Cities.”
Keep Alamo in mind for your next family movie night—or your next date. With the great food and selection of films, the theater strikes the perfect balance of adult- and family-friendly. See you at the movies!
The Opening Scene
Midnight movie premieres actually happen at 7 p.m. nowadays, and Alamo pulls out all the stops. They’ve hired costumed extras—like a pack of Amazons for Wonder Woman and the 501st Legion for Star Wars—to roam the lobby. The Woodbury opening happened in July, which movie fanatics would know as the month
Ant Man and The Wasp and Mission Impossible:
Ghost Protocol opened.
Thirsty? Try one of Alamo’s popular movie-themed cocktails.
Margarita: On the Rocks
The Dude’s White Russian
The Love Bug
Kentucky Buck (pictured above)
THE HARD STUFF
Compiled by Monique kleinhuizen
Remember (at) the Alamo…
The whole point of the brand is to give moviegoers a decidedly different experience than they’d get at other theaters. Here’s what you need to know before you go.
Check out the Alamo Victory loyalty program.
It’s a free program—accessible via app, on the website, or verbally at the box office—where your visits add up to surprise rewards. You’ll get a free movie ticket (or two) on your birthday, plus discounts on food and movies and a heads-up on new releases, special screenings and more.
There’s reserved seating.
You won’t see a sea of ticket kiosks when you walk in the front doors, and that’s intentional. Take your selfies for Instagram, walk right into your theater, and your ticket will be checked before you’re seated. It’s a full-service dining experience, so you’ll be greeted by waitstaff ready to take your order. There are over 150 people on staff in Woodbury, so if you need anything, just ask.
But still. Arrive early.
Latecomers aren’t admitted—instead, their tickets are refunded—so plan ahead. There aren’t ads played before a movie, but you will see specially curated trivia and pre-show material onscreen relating to the movie you’re about to see. Think interviews with cast members, behind-the-scenes views, fun facts about the film, and more.
Plan for the kids.
Kids under 18 aren’t allowed unless they’re with an adult over 21. The only exception is for minors between the ages of 15 and 17, who can apply to be part of the Victory Vanguard program. They can purchase $5 tickets for 2D screenings for themselves or other members, but membership is revoked if they disrupt others’ experience. Adult movie tickets are slightly more expensive than other local theaters at $8.50-$12 for matinees and $11.25-$14.75 for evening shows—not including the price of dinner and drinks—so go all in and make a date of it.
Stick with the theme.
The everyday menu is brimming with from-scratch, flavorful menu items, interesting cocktails, and craft beers all day, every day, but order off the film-centric special menu created just for the occasion. (There were green milkshakes for Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Going for the Gold or Triple Axel with a Twist cocktails for I, Tonya.)
Silence is golden.
Along with its strict no-talking, no-texting rule, Alamo goes to great lengths to make sure there’s a distraction-free atmosphere inside the theater. Movie candy won’t come in a box or a crinkly bag. Instead, expect to get your Milk Duds in a Chinese takeout container. It’s less noisy (no chopsticks required).
Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas Brings an Elevated dinner- and-a-movie Experience to Woodbury
They say everything’s bigger in Texas.